Project Information
Collaborative Research: Controls on Sediment Yields from Tidewater Glaciers from Patagonia to Antarctica
Start Date:
End Date:
This project examines the role of glacier dynamics in glacial sediment yields. The results will shed light on how glacial erosion influences both orogenic processes and produces sediments that accumulate in basins, rich archives of climate variability. Our hypothesis is that erosion rates are a function of sliding speed, and should diminish sharply as the glacier's basal temperatures drop below the melting point. To test this hypothesis, we will determine sediment accumulation rates from seismic studies of fjord sediments for six tidewater glaciers that range from fast-moving temperate glaciers in Patagonia to slow-moving polar glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula. Two key themes are addressed for each glacier system: 1) sediment yields and erosion rates by determining accumulation rates within the fjords using seismic profiles and core data, and 2) dynamic properties and basin characteristics of each glacier in order to seek an empirical relationship between glacial erosion rates and ice dynamics. The work is based in Patagonia and the Antarctic Peninsula, ideal natural laboratories for these purposes because the large latitudinal range provides a large range of precipitation and thermal regimes over relatively homogeneous lithologies and tectonic settings. Prior studies of these regions noted significant decreases in glaciomarine sediment accumulations in the fjords to the south. As well, the fjords constitute accessible and nearly perfect natural sediment traps.

The broader impacts of this study include inter-disciplinary collaboration with Chilean glaciologists and marine geologists, support for one postdoctoral and three doctoral students, inclusion of undergraduates in research, and outreach to under-represented groups in Earth sciences and K-12 educators. The results of the project will also contribute to a better understanding of the linkages between climate and evolution of all high mountain ranges.
Person Role
Anderson, John Investigator
Hallet, Bernard Investigator
Wellner, Julia Co-Investigator
Antarctic Earth Sciences Award # 0338137
Antarctic Earth Sciences Award # 0338371
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Deployment Type
NBP0505 ship expedition
NBP0703 ship expedition
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Repository Title (link) Status
MGDS Expedition data of NBP0703 exists
USAP-DC NBP0505 sediment core locations exists
USAP-DC NBP0505 CTD data exists
MGDS Expedition data of NBP0505 exists
  1. Majewski, W., Wellner, J. S., Szczuciński, W., & Anderson, J. B. (2012). Holocene oceanographic and glacial changes recorded in Maxwell Bay, West Antarctica. Marine Geology, 326-328, 67–79. (doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2012.08.009)